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Final Fantasy XI Online Review

Developer: Square-Enix Publisher: Square-Enix
Release Date: April 18, 2006 Also On: PC and PS2

I have to come out, before saying anything about Final Fantasy XI, that I’ve never played a massively-multiplayer online RPG before this game. I never gave them a chance, because I was scared I’d play occasionally then become addicted. Final Fantasy XI Online for the Xbox 360 probably isn’t the best game to get an impression on MMORPG’s, because as both a game and an MMORPG, it falls short. As a game, it’s boring. As an MMORPG, it just doesn’t seem to be as exciting as other ones out there.

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The first problem I had with this game was the four-hour download-and-install time that I had to sit through before I could even think about making a character and playing the game. Four hours of letting something install…what is this, 1996? C’mon, this is ridiculous. I understand that there are patches and expansions that were added on, but I don’t care. I’m not playing a game for four hours, I’m waiting on a menu to leave the screen.

Once I actually began, I came across the biggest fear I had: Final Fantasy XI Online gives the player NO direction. It simply pops you into an open world and forces you to figure out where to begin. Sure, this isn’t difficult for people who have played Final Fantasy XI on other consoles for years, but a newbie like myself is going to have a lot of problems and something should have been done to accommodate for that. Fortunately, the FFXI community was (mostly) nice enough to help me out. Some of them laughed at my pathetically low level, which was to be expected.

Final Fantasy XI Online’s gameplay is very stiff. It’s menu-based and has an awful interface, one that is more confusing than it should be. In the game, the characters move slowly and look like stiff mannequins while attacking and performing any simple action. The world itself is detailed to a minimal amount, which is very disappointing. The enemy designs weren’t all that bad, but from a visual perspective, FFXI is lacking. The music and sound effects are also pretty bland. Even the memorable Final Fantasy tunes don’t sound as comforting as they usually do. Like most Xbox 360 games I’ve played, I found myself with the custom soundtrack pumping and overriding the in-game score.

I didn’t have expectations for Final Fantasy XI Online, and it’s a good thing, because I’d have been disappointed. I can see where the addictive qualities are. It’s fun to complete missions. It’s satisfying to level up. It’s funny to watch a newbie player (like myself) get killed by the Forest Hares at the start of the game. But I can’t find myself getting into this. I do recommend that anyone looking into this MMORPG try it on the Xbox 360, since it contains the original game and every one of the expansions, including the new Treasures of Aht Urghan, which was also released on the PlayStation 2 and PC. But if you’re looking for an Xbox 360 RPG, I’d tell you to pass on this.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 5.8
Written by Cliff Review Guide